5 Ways to Delegate Yourself Into Freedom
I hate math.
I use it every day, but my love doth not increase. It’s not because I think it’s useless, because that would be stupid. It’s just that I’m so exponentially bad at it. I tend to delegate all my math tasks to Texas Instruments or my iPhone.
Usually, when I delegate, I have to fight the urge to put the task I’ve given away out of my mind until I need what I have delegated again. I’ll even delegate tasks to myself and forget about them, because those things are Future-Seth’s problem.
I wasn’t always like that though. There was a time when I didn’t want to delegate anything. I didn’t trust anyone (which was my fault for not training them) or I wanted to be the one who accomplished everything (because it fed my ego to be irreplaceable).
Well, if that’s you, then challenge accepted! Here’s 5 ways you can be a great delegator:
Delegate Meaningful Tasks
Real delegation doesn’t begin until you’ve given away the power to make a decision. Asking people to run out and fetch information so that you can make a decision isn’t real delegation; it’s still micromanagement and everything still bottle-necks at you.
If you feel you cannot trust your people to make good decisions, then is it possible that they are simply not trained well? Sometimes, you may find yourself in a culture without policies and procedures and it is very difficult to train your people because of it. If that is the case, you have your work cut out for you, but if you will slow down and train quality employees or volunteers, then you will exponentially expand your reach and influence. It’s just math….…again.
Also, if your people know that you never ask them to decide anything important, then they will not feel their role is important. That’s when they suddenly “feel God’s call” to another ministry area. Delegate important tasks to those whom you have trained well.
Delegate Clear Expectations
So, you’ve given away an important task? Good! Now set them up to succeed. Tell them what you expect it to look like when the task is done correctly. Give them a deadline and any guidelines that you want them to follow. This gives them a sense of trust that you have given them something important to do.
You’re done, right? Nope! Remember, this task is still on you! Give them suggestions on how to accomplish the task well. Tell them the names of who can help them and how to contact them. Set them up to succeed by giving them access to all the resources that you would have access to!
Give Space But Investigate
Now get out of the way and let them work. They are going to go about the task in the way that God has wired them and you need to let them do this. It may look ridiculous to you, but remember, you may be a hand and they are a gastrocnemious (what? It’s a real thing!). Give them the space to work, but investigate too.
Also, when you lay out the expectations for the task, let them know that you are going to check in. You might even give them the dates and times that you will expect an update if the project takes a significant amount of time to complete (like a video or graphic design). This helps eliminate procrastination and allows you to give good feedback along the way. Speaking of feedback…
Give Great Feedback
To be clear, saying you like or don’t like something is only technically feedback, but it isn’t great feedback. That’s Facebook. You’re thinking of Facebook.
Great feedback is an encouraging yet honest and critical assessment and usually goes down smoother as a question. It sounds like this:
Ok, youth pastor, let’s say we did fire a confetti cannon into the crowd on July 4. What do you think our crowd will do: appreciate it or not appreciate it? I don’t think our senior members will get the joke, so would that work better in your youth service? Could we ask the students to sit in one section of the audience and we can fire it on just them? Is there anyone in our church who is a paramedic?
Worship leader, I’m so glad to have you on staff researching new songs to take our congregation deeper into worship with God. However, I’m not sure that this song about open-mouth kissing Jesus is appropriate for our congregation, especially the men. Can we find another song that’s more in line with our vision of the Sunday morning experience we want everyone to have here?
Hey, Communications Director, I thought the video was really great! However, It was a little too long. Is there anything we can edit out of it?
Feedback without direction is just an opinion, and your more high-caliber leaders will take opinions either personally or as a license to do what they choose. Find more tips on great feedback here.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due
When you’ve delegated a task, it is ultimately your responsibility to see it succeed. However, if it does succeed, it is also your responsibility to make sure that the person who did all the legwork gets the credit for it.
Just because you give the green light on a project does not mean that that person is going to understand it to be a compliment. What I mean is that you need to tell people that they have done a good job when they do a good job and make it clear that that’s what you’re doing!
Don’t you want that too? Recognition of a job well done goes a long way in building relationships with your volunteers or staff. The next time you hand them a project, I would be willing to bet monopoly money that they are going to be more inclined to do their best work again.
When we delegate purposefully, we are more effective personally. It allows us to “only do what only we can do.” (Another great quote from Andy Stanley). When we specialize, which is what delegation allows us to do, we can have greater impact.
Delegation can feel like you’re not doing very much or being very productive. That’s what delegating can sometimes can feel like. Believe it or not, this is actually your job! The ability to delegate well is why they pay you the big bucks! Wait, I’m thinking of Starbucks. They pay you in Starbucks.